Iowa State volleyball wrapped up a 2-1 weekend at the Cy-Hawk Series Tournament after a loss to Iowa on Saturday. The loss was not the way the team hoped to round out the weekend; however, there was a lot to get excited about as the team defeated a pair of teams that were undefeated at the time.
Holthaus heating up
Right side player Eleanor Holthaus, senior, has begun to hit her stride, finishing with 19 and 22 kills during Iowa State’s wins over the weekend. Iowa State Head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch emphasized the value that Holthaus has provided the team so far.
“She is just playing so well, physically leading us as an offensive player, as a blocker, she is passing, hitting out of the back row, she is serving well this year,” Johnson-Lynch said. “In all parts of the game, she is just carrying a heavy load and contributing a ton.”
This is nothing new for the two-time All-Big 12 First Team player, as she has been a dominant player for the majority of her career, but Holthaus is still finding ways to improve. The senior also managed to record a double-double with 13 digs against Syracuse University and a team-leading five blocks against Ball State University.
Holthaus credited setter Jaden Newsome and libero Marija Popovic, both graduate students, for setting her up nicely over the past weekend.
“Jaden is doing a really good job of finding me, and putting up hittable balls for me, [Popovic] put up really good balls. The entire match the team played with intensity which allowed me to get going, and for me to find open spots,” Holthaus said.
Focus on blocking
Blocking has played a major role in Cyclone wins, as the team is 5-0 in matches in which they have recorded more blocks than their opponents. This proved to be important over the previous weekend, as Iowa State was matched by Iowa in blocks and it happened to be one of the team’s two losses on the season.
Johnson-Lynch acknowledged this statistic, saying that Iowa State has elite blockers and when they play well, the team is put into a good situation.
“I think our blocking [defense] can be pretty elite, and I think that is probably our identity. Physically, we have got some people who are stoppers at the net,” Johnson-Lynch said. “Our middles are both averaging well over a block per set, which we have not had in a while. Our block, when it is clean and disciplined, it is really good.”
Iowa State has taken pride in defense and blocking this year and the difference that it can make has shown so far this season.
Senior Middle Blocker Candelaria Herrera and Holthaus also recognize the importance of blocking for the team, stating that when the team is blocking well it opens up the rest of the team’s game.
No time to waste
The Cyclones have little time to waste, as they will return to action on Wednesday to face Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, before heading to Minnesota for the Diet Coke Classic which begins on Friday.
Johnson-Lynch is looking to use this short period of time to focus on Iowa State rather than spend all of the team’s time focusing on the opponents.
“You don’t have time to really make all of these adjustments, you just have to make sure that you are really good on your side of the net,” Johnson-Lynch said. Pick a few things that you can really try to stop on the other side, but you cannot do everything, you do not have enough time to prepare.”
The staff believes that focusing on the loss from Saturday is only holding back the team as they push for a successful week.